Raised in Millard, NE, Nik Fackler was the son of Denise and Doug Fackler, owners of a local diner who also encouraged their son's artistic pursuits through their own interests in photography, writing and music. Their son had no formal film training, and even forewent college, but his aptitude with short films earned him entry into the Los Angeles Film School at 16. However, he passed on the opportunity after deciding that the industry-oriented school would taint his perception of film. Fackler returned to Millard, where he directed short films under the tutelage of Dana Altman, the owner of North Sea Films, an Omaha-based production house. He also wrote and performed music in a variety of local bands, including Family Radio.Altman introduced Fackler to high-end production equipment, which improved his efforts considerably. After contacting the Nebraskan band Azure Ray to provide music for his short, "Mynoot Loss," he began directing videos for other artists on their indie label, Saddle Creek, including The Faint, The Good Life and others. Saddle Creek head Conor Oberst then hired Fackler to shoot a series of videos that would play behind their performances on a 2005 tour. Meanwhile, the teenager began work on a screenplay for a feature-length film based in part on older patrons at his parents' diner. The project underwent a lengthy gestation, including several near-starts in 2005, but financing did not become solvent until 2009. With the help of friends, including Altman, who became one of the film's producers, he began work on the $1.2 million drama in his home state. The end result was a moving comedy-drama about love and loneliness that earned stellar reviews, many of which centered on the maturity of material penned by a filmmaker still in his early twenties. In December 2010, his script was nominated for an Independent Spirit Award in the Best First Screenplay category.